Change has to come: Need is government's legitimacy

09 March 2014 Editorial Desk

BNP is proposing to go for a mass movement because otherwise Tareque Rahman will not be able to return to Bangladesh.  Dr. Khondaker Mosharraf Hossain, a senior BNP leader said so unequivocally on Friday. Tareque Rahman is also the senior vice president of the party. It is reported in some newspapers that he will soon be made co-chairman with her mother as chairperson.We have to see how many other leaders of BNP have to say so. Some senior BNP leaders have good reasons to be inactive as alleged, if the party is not reorganized as a political party. No political party can be treated as a family property all the way. Change has to come in Awami League also, the party run like a family affair. At least there are some who think that to show family loyalty for the kind of family politics they have, Tareque Rahman has to be given all the importance whether or not he so deserves politically. Time is fast nearing for leadership to inherit in BNP. To some, Tareque is a political liability now for his past impulsive dominance.  If Tareque Rahman is so important as a political leader for whom the country has to undertake a people's  movement then he should be here to lead the party and the  movement if such a movement has anything to do with public interest. There is no bar to his returning to Bangladesh. One thing is clear that what is good for the country's politics is no major consideration either to Awami League or BNP. Awami League has failed to remain a political party for the cause of democracy and BNP has failed to grow as a political party. Acceptability of Tareque Rahman to the people in our situation of politics should need some reflections. In our political context Mr. Tofail Ahmed, the minister for commerce is right when he says that he will separate business from politics. He surely meant that party politics would be kept detached from the business. In other words, businessmen will be allowed to conduct their business free from their party involvement.  Earlier, he expressed surprise why America is raising political issues unconnected with the economy and business. There is no denying that politics has become good business in Bangladesh and without party loyalty or party connection nobody can do serious business. So there is justification in saying that politics has been reduced to a family business of party followers of the government in power. It is no surprise that political concession  and political tolerance are at a vanishing point in our politics.  But in a true sense of national interest, politics and economy are closely interwoven. In fact, it is the politics that is the driving force behind the economy. If the government's politics is to compel violent street politics then it will not be possible to keep economy not being affected by politics. So the economy is dependent on politics, but surely not on politics of party interest.The country's politics is in a deep mess for running a government or saving democracy. The government is all talk, while police power is enjoying too much immunity. There is too much keenness to buy and win over special interests. The people's right to democracy has been smothered by the politics of family loyalty as found in both Awami League and BNP.  Now we have a government that has no electoral basis and the government should worry about its own popular or democratic legitimacy if it is to run a functional government.Some eminent leaders of Awami League government have no problem in claiming that BNP will not be able to launch a powerful movement to dislodge it from power. This is not the language of democratic politics. The government is afraid to face genuine election and still boastful about holding on to power. A government's democratic legitimacy is a matter of the people and does not depend on what BNP can do or cannot do. There are intellectuals among us who still tell us that it is for Awami League and BNP to find a solution. It is possible that they are reluctant to accept that the issue concerns the people and only they can decide the legitimacy of those in the government. They also cannot recognize the fact that we have no politics of dialogue or democracy either in BNP or Awami League for giving anybody any hope that the political leaders can decide the issue peacefully. In our view that these two parties together have been able to end the politics of election. So it is a false hope and bluff that these two parties will be helpful in reviving the democratic process. We need mediation of any third party.  The Awami League government needs popular legitimacy for a popular mandate to run the country. A government's popular legitimacy is also needed for international cooperation in every aspect of country's business, trade and as well as for   finding others as development partners.Sticking to power for a while by helping the greedy ones is easy in our present selfish political culture. By serving special interests no government can survive in the end. But if Awami League government has to claim political legitimacy as an elected government it is imperative for it to establish its popular support. It rests on the government alone to hold a fresh and credible election for the credibility of its own claim of having the popular mandate. If BNP is to continue as a hereditary family property then let it be their own business to disappear.

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